Corset Making-Materials

Corset making shares some similarities and differences with clothing construction.  Although many of the basic techniques are the same, there are some unique materials that are used throughout the process.  This tutorial will cover the selection of materials, corset fitting, and corset construction. 

About the Corset

The corset is a garment designed for support.  Because of this the corset must be tight fitting and provide enough structure to support the female form.  This support role also requires that the corset be built from durable materials that will stand up to stress for a long lasting garment.

Selection of Materials


There are several possible patterns to use in making a corset.  They range from Halloween costume type patterns published by the major pattern companies to specialized historical patterns by the small historical pattern companies.  Although, the major company patterns are easier to find and simpler to follow, I find that they produce a corset that is well fitting and durable.  My pattern of choice is the Laughing Moon Dore and Silverado corset pattern.  This pattern uses traditional techniques and includes detailed instructions for both fitting and construction. 

Fabric Selection

The main difference in fabrics between general garment construction and corset construction is the use of a coutil fabric in construction.  Coutil is a French twill weave fabric which is very durable and resistant to stretching.   Because of the tension in lacing a corset normal fabrics will stretch and distort over time which will slowly destroy the corset.   The tight weave of a coutil fabric will help it to resist stretching and ensure a longer life for your corset.  

The coutil layer will provide the strength to the fabric part of the corset but is often very plain.  Because of this you will want to use an outer fabric to cover the coutil layer and provide the finished appearance.  Since the coutil is providing strength, you can use almost any fabric for the outer layer without worry for durability.  I also often use an inner lining to provide a soft feel against the skin for comfort in wearing. 


The boning is what provides the actual support structure to the corset.  There are several different boning types that can be used in construction including, plastic boning, spiral steel, and straight steel boning.  In constructing a corset I tend to use both straight and spiral steel boning. 

The straight boning is made up of thin strips of steel.  It will flex in only one direction.  This makes it great to reinforce the back of the corset to keep the lacing eyelets straight and even the force of the lacing across the entire width of the corset. 

The spral boning is made up of individual links that are joined together to create the boning.  The allows the boning to bend in every direction.  This added flex is useful to provide support throughout the front of the corset. The one thing to be aware of with the spiral boning is that cutting the boning can produce sharp edges. Because of this, you will want to purchase press on boning ends to cover the raw cut edges and provide a smooth finish to the boning.  Without these ends, the boning can work a hole in the fabric over time and ruin the corset.

Miscelaneous Parts

There are several various pieces of hardware that are also used in construction.  Of thsese, the most specialized is the busk.  The busk is a strip of metal that splits into two parts.  Each half of the busk is sewn into one side of the front of the corset.  This allows the corset to separate in front for ease in wearing.  Various fasteners can also be used in place of a busk, however care must be taken to ensure that the fastener will stand up to the stress placed on the corset front. 


Later this week I will post part two which covers fitting!